NFL 2013: Peyton Manning a Masterpiece?

Yahoo Contributor Network

This just in…quarterback Peyton Manning won a playoff game last week.

Don't laugh. You hear more about what the Denver Broncos' signal-caller doesn't do these days.

Manning and his team held off the San Diego Chargers last Sunday, 24-17, in the AFC Divisional Playoffs and on Sunday host the New England Patriots in the conference title game.

Over the next few weeks, the veteran passer has a chance to become the third different starting quarterback to take two different teams to the Super Bowl and then perhaps the first to actually win a Lombardi Trophy with two different franchises.

Last week's victory over the Bolts snapped a three-game postseason losing streak for Manning and "raised" his record to 10-11 in the playoffs. The mark includes a Super Bowl win (XLI) and a Super Bowl loss (XLIV)--both while with the Colts--as well as numerous early playoff exits by he and his teams.

But here are some other facts…just in passing.

Only Brett Favre has thrown for more yards and more scores in the league's 94-year history.

In 15 seasons on the field, Manning has thrown for 64,964 yards, topped only by Favre (71,838). The one-time Indianapolis Colts signal-caller has totaled 4,000 or more yards through the air 13 times, throwing for an NFL-record 5,477 yards in 2013.

Manning has also thrown 491 touchdown passes--more than twice as many interceptions (219) than he has totaled in 240 regular-season starts, and set a new standard with 55 TD passes in 2013. When it comes to those contests, the league's number one pick in the 1998 draft has won more than twice as many games (167) as he has lost (73).

So what's the point of all of this statistical analysis?

It's about perception. And for some, that 10-11 postseason record seems to take more of a center stage than his numerous accomplishments.

While it's not time to put Manning out to pasture, it will be interesting to see how the veteran performer is ultimately remembered when it's all said and done. He's been called the best quarterback in NFL history by some and the top regular-season quarterback by others.

In 2012, the Broncos were the AFC's No. 1 seed with a 13-3 record and took an 11-game winning streak into their divisional playoff meeting with the visiting Baltimore Ravens. But some shaky defense and three Manning turnovers helped turn an expected win into a 38-35 double overtime loss.

Obviously, that won't be the case this season as the Broncos, with a playoff win under the belts, get ready to host the New England Patriots on Sunday with a berth in Super Bowl XLVIII on the line. Still, a loss by Denver this weekend means that the team would have squandered home field advantage in the conference for the second straight season.

As for Manning's legacy, a few more answers will come this weekend as he prepares for the Patriots and Brady, who has beaten his teams in 10 of the previous 14 overall meetings. But one can't help but start to wonder about Manning, one of the game's most prolific performers, and how he will be ultimately remembered when he finally hangs up his uniform.

Russell S. Baxter has been covering the NFL for 30-plus years on all platforms. He is the founder of ProFootballGuru.com, writes for numerous websites and publications across the country and is blessed with an encyclopedic memory. Ready to talk NFL? Follow him on Twitter at @BaxFootballGuru.

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